"Landlord Explanation of Debt"
Existing Tenants Survey 2008 Tenant perspectives on social landlord services 1 Existing Tenants Survey 2008 Tenant perspectives on social landlord services Contents Introduction 3 Key findings 4 Overall satisfaction with landlord services 5 Analysing the key drivers of overall satisfaction 9 Opinions on being a social sector tenant 12 Services social landlords should provide 14 Scope for trading off rent levels and landlord responsibilities 16 Satisfaction with specific social landlord services 17 Landlord handling of complaints 20 Conclusions 22 2 Introduction The Existing Tenants Survey (ETS) is a large and comprehensive survey of social housing tenants owned by the TSA. It comprises 19,307 interviews with general needs tenants, 808 with supported housing tenants and 1,147 with shared owners. The interviews lasted 30 minutes on average and were conducted in the tenants'/shared owners' own home. The survey was undertaken by MRUK and interviews were conducted between August and October 2008 for tenants, and February to April 2009 for shared owners. The sample was selected from landlords' lists using a stratified random sampling approach. The ETS was undertaken on behalf of the Housing Corporation in 1995, 2000 and 2004, comprising 10,000 interviews with housing association tenants (general needs and supported housing). The same sampling method and, where appropriate, the same questions, were used for the 2008 survey. However, in 2008 the sample was extended to also include local authority and ALMO tenants. A series of reports have been produced using ETS data, each focussing on a key theme or sample. Full details of the methodology, the questionnaire and the full set of reports are available on the TSA's website: www.tenantservicesauthority.org This report focuses on the survey findings specific to tenant perceptions of social landlord services. As well as drawing on the ETS, this report also makes some reference to other recent survey data which sheds light on tenant views about social landlord services. This report is based on the 19,307 of these relating to tenants living in general needs housing. The analysis for this report has been carried out by Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and by Ipsos MORI. 3 Key findings Generalising across all services provided, ETS returns showed more than four out of five tenants (81%) were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their landlord. There was also evidence that overall satisfaction rates had tended to rise steadily in recent years In terms of landlord service provision, the most significant ‘key drivers’ of overall satisfaction were the perceived effectiveness of repairs services and the extent to which the landlord was seen as maintaining the home in a ‘decent’ condition More than four out of five tenants (84%) cite specific ‘good points’ about being a tenant in their sector – most commonly the opportunity to benefit from a ‘good repairs and maintenance service’. Fifty per cent cite ‘bad points’ about renting from a local authority, ALMO or housing association While ten per cent of tenants would be willing to pay a higher rent for ‘extra services’, 29% said they would accept more responsibility – eg dealing with minor repairs – in return for a rent discount Just over three quarters of social renters (76%) were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their landlord’s repairs and maintenance service, although there were proportionally more discontented tenants in younger age groups ALMOs appear to slightly outperform their counterparts elsewhere in England on tenant satisfaction with repairs and maintenance. There were also signs that housing associations with the most ‘disparate’ housing stock evoke slightly weaker ratings. In terms of the way that repairs are undertaken, the attitude and tidiness of repair operatives was particularly highly rated Across the sector as a whole, there was evidence of steadily rising rates of satisfaction with repairs and maintenance services in recent years About one in seven ETS tenants (14%) had made a ‘complaint’ to their landlord in the year preceding the survey. Over half of these exchanges remained ‘ongoing’ at the time of the fieldwork and ‘dissatisfaction with the overall service’ was relatively high among tenants with an ‘unresolved complaint’. Nevertheless, in a majority of the recent complaints ‘resolved’ at the time of the survey, the complaint had led to the problem being ‘solved’ or the provision of an explanation as to why this was not possible 4 Overall satisfaction with landlord services The great majority of tenants professed themselves ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the ‘overall service’ provided by their landlord – see graph Overall Satisfaction with Landlord Services. As shown in the graph there was virtually no difference between landlord types in this respect. The results set out in this graph confirm the well-known tendency for younger tenants to be less content than their older counterparts. A factor reflecting material circumstances rather than simply age-related expectations might be that young people are more likely to occupy less popular dwellings than their older counterparts. An indication that this is true – albeit to a limited extent – is the finding that some 50% of tenants aged 18-24 occupied flats, compared to only 41% of tenants aged over 651. Other than the contrast between younger and older tenants, the differences in ‘all satisfied’ and ‘all dissatisfied’ ratings attributed to the groups listed in the graph appear generally modest. However, more marked differences emerged in relation to the proportion of tenants professing themselves ‘very satisfied’. On this measure Muslims and other Asian and black tenants stood out more clearly as less content than their white counterparts. This appeared to be partly related to the differing age structures of the ethnic and religious groups being examined here. The Asian, black and Muslim cohorts contained disproportionate numbers of younger people. Hence, if we focus our analysis on tenants aged under 39, the differentials are smaller than those shown in the graph. However, while it is possible that such differentials would be further reduced if analysis were focused solely on people aged under 30, sample sizes for the non-white/non-Christian cohorts become rather small if restricted to this extent. Also of interest in relation to housing association tenants was the considerably lower proportion of ‘very satisfied’ tenants whose landlords operated in more than twenty local authority areas. This could reflect the challenge faced by larger, more disparate, housing associations in providing services equal in quality to those offered by more geographically- focused landlords. Differences in satisfaction rates according to property type and estate/non-estate location were relatively modest. Of course, the responses analysed here related to ‘overall satisfaction with landlord’ rather than property. Nevertheless, it might have been anticipated that tenants’ views about the former would be coloured to some extent by their opinions on the latter. This did not appear to have been the case. Focusing on dissatisfaction rates, contrasts between the different groups identified in the graph Overall Satisfaction Rates with Landlord Services were generally fairly modest. For example, the overall proportions of black and Asian tenants unhappy with the landlord service were quite similar to figures for their white counterparts. Probing more deeply, however, differences emerge between tenants of different forms of landlord. Whereas some 13% of black tenants of local authorities and ALMOs were dissatisfied, the proportion in the housing association sector was only four per cent – somewhat less than the housing association and LSVT sector norm (seven per cent). Exactly what underlies this pattern is difficult to explain from this data. 1 Unpublished data from the Survey of English Housing 2006-07 showed that 11% of flat-dwellers were ‘dissatisfied with their accommodation’, compared to only four per cent of house-dwellers. 5 Overall satisfaction with landlord services 100% 90% 32% 28% 29% 29% 29% 80% 70% 60% 50% 50% 54% 53% 52% 52% 40% 30% 20% 12% 12% 11% 13% 12% 10% 5% 4% 5% 4% 4% 0% 2% 2% 3% 2% 3% LA ALMO HA LSVT ALL very dissatisfied dissatisfied neutral satisfied very satisfied Base: 19,145 responses (LA: 4,963; ALMO: 4,999; HA: 5,577; LSVT: 3,606) Note: excludes don't knows and refusals Overall satisfaction with landlord: breakdown by selected characteristics Very All All dis- Very dis- Base size satisfied satisfied* satisfied** satisfied All 29 81 7 3 (19,307) Respondent aged 18 - 24 16 71 10 4 (1,117) Respondent aged 25 - 39 25 78 8 3 (5,032) Respondent aged 40 - 54 27 80 7 3 (4,990) Respondent aged 55 - 64 32 83 6 2 (2,735) Respondent aged 65 plus 37 86 4 1 (5,314) 1 elder 40 86 4 1 (3,336) 2 elders 33 84 4 2 (1,307) 1 other adult 27 79 7 3 (3,108) 2 adults – at least one non-elder 28 83 5 2 (3,072) 1 adult, 1 or more children 24 72 12 4 (2,220) 2 adults, 1 or more children 30 81 7 3 (3,515) Other 23 79 8 3 (2,668) White 30 81 7 3 (17,321) Asian 21 85 5 2 (655) Black 17 81 9 4 (672) Christian 32 82 6 2 (14,186) Muslim 16 84 4 2 (579) No religion 22 74 10 4 (3,790) 6 Bedsit 33 78 6 2 (142) Other flat or maisonette 26 81 6 2 (7,299) Bungalow 32 81 7 3 (1,295) Other house 31 80 7 3 (10,195) Home on estate 28 80 7 3 (13,426) Home not on estate 31 83 5 2 (5,277) HA managing homes in 1 local 30 78 7 3 (2,623) authority HA managing homes in 2-5 local 36 83 8 2 (668) authorities HA managing homes in 6-20 local 36 86 6 2 (1,829) authorities HA managing homes in 21-50 22 77 8 4 (1,941) local authorities HA managing homes in over 50 23 81 6 2 (2,221) local authorities *combines ‘very satisfied’ and ‘satisfied’ **combines ‘very dissatisfied’ and ‘dissatisfied’ Relating the 2008 ‘overall satisfaction’ figures to those recorded in earlier years suggests a fairly positive story, with the proportion of satisfied tenants having apparently risen since the last ETS and the proportion dissatisfied being the smallest on record (see table). Satisfaction with overall landlord service – trend over time for housing association tenants 2008 2004 1999-2000 1995 Base (9,282) (9,240) (10,226) (10,224) % satisfied 81 77 79 82 % dissatisfied 7 9 13 10 Sources: Existing Tenants Surveys, 1995, 1999-2000, 2004 and 2008 The recently improving trend is consistent with that depicted by the Survey of English Housing which has recorded overall satisfaction levels among social renters rising steadily since 2003-04 (SEH Table S822)2. This may be attributable, in part, to the substantial capital investment ploughed into social housing in recent years under the Decent Homes programme. Another probable explanation is the consistently improving housing management performance recorded by local authorities since the early part of the current decade. In the four years to 2007-08, authorities reduced uncollected rent by a third, cut the time taken to let empty properties by a fifth, halved the proportion of urgent repairs failing to be completed on time and speeded up the completion of non-urgent repairs by more than 2 It should, however, be borne in mind that in absolute terms the ETS figures are somewhat more positive than those reported by the most recent Survey of English Housing for which figures are available. According to the latter, the proportion of social renters ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their landlord in 2006-07 was only 72%, with 17% dissatisfied. The apparent disparity between the two sources might be partly a consequence of non- identical wording in relevant questions although the difference is very slight (the SEH refers to satisfaction with housing services whereas the ETS question is about the ‘overall service provided by your landlord’). Another methodological difference between the two surveys is the point in the interview when the question is asked (much earlier in ETS than in SEH). 7 a quarter3. Moreover, the proportion of local authorities rated by the Audit Commission as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ on housing services rose from 44% to 72% in the five years to 20074. Light is also shed on tenant views about recent changes in landlord services by the SEH question addressed to council tenants where tenants are asked whether they had noticed any change in the overall standard of service provided in the previous two years. Most of those questioned in the 2006-07 survey (60%) reported no change. Of the others, however, more than twice as many (27%) believed the service to have improved than the proportion who considered it to have deteriorated (13%). Asked in what respects the quality of the service had changed, the repairs service was by far the most frequently mentioned issue among both those seeing services as improved and those believing services to have deteriorated. 3 Pawson, H. (2009) Analysis of English local authority housing management performance 2007-08; York: Housing Quality Network 4 Analysis collated from data accessible at: http://www.audit- commission.gov.uk/localgov/audit/cpa/CPA_STCC/scores/Pages/Default.aspx 8 Analysing the key drivers of overall satisfaction Looking at statistical relationships between overall satisfaction with landlord and a range of variables collected on the survey form can provide insight into ‘covert’ factors that drive satisfaction. Ipsos MORI conducted Key Drivers Analysis (KDA) to identify those factors which underlie tenant responses on overall satisfaction with landlord – that is, those other opinions and experiences which are related to the cited level of satisfaction. KDA uses regression analysis to find the combination of answers which can best explain the dependent or target variable (in this case satisfaction with overall service provided by the landlord). If, over time, tenants’ views in respect of a key driver improve, overall satisfaction should also increase. Similarly, if tenants become less positive in relation to a key driver, this will have a negative impact on overall satisfaction. These drivers can also be interpreted as ‘predictors’ of satisfaction, in as much as a high positive (or negative) score on one of these factors is associated with a relatively high (or low) level of satisfaction. The analysis shows the amount of variance around the target variable explained by the model. This is a measure of how well we can explain the variation in the dependent variable and is expressed as a percentage. The nearer this percentage is to 100, the better the fit of the model, in terms of the power of the included ‘predictor’ factors in statistically explaining overall satisfaction. We would say that models explaining 30% or over are relatively strong predictive models. The model presented on the next page predicts 54% of overall variance. This means that other factors, not included in the survey, will also influence overall satisfaction (there will always be a certain amount of any such model which is unexplained, no matter how many possible drivers are included). Nevertheless, the model is a strong predictor of satisfaction. 9 Top 10 drivers of satisfaction with overall service provided by landlord – all tenants 1. Agree being an HA/ LA/ ALMO tenant a a good type 1. Agree being an HA/LA/ALMO tenant is is good type ofof 54% of variance housing tenure when compared with other tenures housing tenure when compared with other tenures explained 2.80 2. Satisfied with the way your landlord deals 2. Satisfied with the way your landlord by the model with repairs and maintenance with repairs and maintenance 2.21 3. Agree your landlord keeps your current home 3. Agree your landlord keeps your current home 1.69 in a decent condition in a decent condition 4. Neighbourhood mixed in terms of race/ ethnicity 4. Neighbourhood mixed in terms of race/ ethnicity 0.84 is positive for the neighbourhood is positive for the Overall 0.87 5. Agree my home is in a poor state of repair 5. Agree my home is in a poor state of repair Satisfaction with 0.82 6. Have made a complaint in the last 12 months service from 6. Have made a complaint in the last 12 months 0.68 landlord 7. Do not consider neighbourhood to be mixed 7. Do not consider neighbourhood to be mixed 1.18 in terms of race/ ethnicity in terms of race/ ethnicity 0.65 8. Satisfied with neighbourhood as a place to live 8. Satisfied with neighbourhood as a place to live 1.70 9. This is not a neighbourhood where people 9. This is not a neighbourhood where people would like to live would like to live 10. Aware of mystery shopping 10. Aware of mystery shopping as a way of getting involved as a way of getting involved Base: 19,167 tenants – Existing Tenants Survey 7 The figure also shows whether each factor identified as a driver influences overall satisfaction in a positive or negative direction. Those in green are factors positively related to overall satisfaction whereas those in red indicate a negative relationship, with each identified factor ranked in relation to its significance in explaining the variation in overall satisfaction. The figures cited in the chart show the strength of association for each factor when respondent groups are compared. Odds ratios are used here which compare the odds of an event (in this case overall satisfaction with landlord) occurring in one group against the odds of it occurring in another group. An odds ratio greater than 1 indicates satisfaction is more likely in that group whereas an odds ratio less than 1 indicates satisfaction is less likely in that group. Those who agreed that being a social tenant was a good type of housing tenure were more likely to be satisfied with their landlord overall than those who disagreed that being a social tenant is a good type of housing tenure. Those who considered their neighbourhood to be mixed in terms of race or ethnicity were less likely to be satisfied with their landlord, overall, than those who didn’t see their area as mixed in racial or ethnic terms. From this analysis it can be seen that the strongest positive drivers of overall satisfaction across all tenant groups related to: a view that renting from a local authority/ALMO/housing association represented a good type of tenure satisfaction with repairs and maintenance services the perceived condition of the current home 10 The importance of repairs and maintenance services and the general condition of the home is very much to be expected. It is also no surprise that those who were satisfied with their housing tenure when compared with other tenures were more likely to be satisfied with their landlord overall. For this factor, however, it is much harder to identify the direction of causality – tenants could be more satisfied with their landlord because of the positive view of their tenure, or their satisfaction with tenure may be driven by a good service provided by their landlord. Satisfaction with neighbourhood, awareness of specific opportunities to get involved (in this case via mystery shopping) and perceived ‘clean streets’ were also positive, but weaker, drivers of overall satisfaction. Again it is no surprise that those tenants who were more aware of channels of influence were more likely to be satisfied overall. This forms an important part of the communication mechanisms between landlords and tenants, a factor that is closely associated with strong overall satisfaction scores. The analysis also indicates the importance of place to overall satisfaction levels which is likely to reflect a complex interaction of factors some of which the landlord may be perceived to have some control over (such as clean and tidy streets) and some over which they have less influence (aspects around respect, vandalism and graffiti are more likely to be considered police matters). Views on the nature of the neighbourhood also featured strongly as negative drivers. Those who saw ethnically mixed neighbourhoods as positive were less likely to be satisfied with the overall service provided by their landlord as too were those who did not consider their neighbourhood to be mixed in this way. Clearly the ethnic diversity within neighbourhoods was an important factor and it is interesting that those who thought mixed neighbourhoods were positive were also less likely to be satisfied. This may reflect that while these tenants were positive about a diverse neighbourhood, in principle, they may have considered the area in which they currently lived as homogenous in this respect. The analysis also shows that those who did not consider the neighbourhood to be desirable, as well as those areas seen as being affected by anti-social behaviour like drunkenness or rowdy activity, were also less likely to be satisfied. The other key negative drivers identified include those tenants who considered their home to be in a poor state of repair as well as those who had made a complaint to their landlord within the last year. Other Ipsos MORI research indicates that the majority of tenants making contact with their landlord do so about repairs and maintenance issues and again this emphasises the importance of the repairs service to overall satisfaction. 11 Opinions on being a social sector tenant Related to their views about social landlord services are tenant opinions about living in a home managed by a local authority, ALMO or housing association. Importantly, these questions were asked in an ‘open-ended’ way; that is, responses were unprompted. More than four out of five tenants (84%) cited at least one of the factors listed in the graph below as a ‘good point’ about being a tenant in their sector. Some 50% cited one or more ‘bad points’ (such as those listed in the graph). The propensity to cite negative factors was somewhat higher among respondents aged 18-24 (58%) and especially among black tenants (69%). The most frequently cited ‘good point’ was that living in the sector enabled a tenant to access a ‘good repairs and maintenance service’. Asked to cite up to three ‘good points’, almost a third of tenants mentioned this factor, with a significant proportion also perceiving that tenants in the relevant sector benefit from ‘homes [being] kept in a good state of repair’. Another theme was value for money, with more than a quarter of tenants seeing that being charged a ‘reasonable rent’ was an attractive element of the package, with 17% mentioning as important that their rent was ‘cheaper than buying’. Good points about being a tenant of a local authority/ALMO/housing association Good repairs and maintenance service 30% Reasonable rent 28% Good quality housing 19 Cheaper than buying 17% Good landlord 17% Homes kept in good state of repair 15% Friendly neighbours 15% Landlord provides decent homes 11% Better than being another type of tenant 7% Security of tenure 5% Security of home 5% Ability to choose the location of my home 4% Located near useful facilities (schools, shops etc) 4% Access to support services (eg warden) 4% Access to other council/landlord services 4% Landlord provides modern homes 4% Choice over what happens to my property 3% Access to Tenants' Associations 3% It is like owning your own home 2% Right to buy 1% none (including 'don't know') 16% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% Base: 19,297 tenants As noted above, by comparison with the proportion of tenants who cited ‘good points’, the proportion citing ‘bad points’ about living in their sector was relatively small. As shown above, virtually half cited no bad points. The most frequently mentioned negatives concerned exposure to anti-social behaviour and the ‘poor state of repair’ in which homes 12 were kept. Hence, while it may be seen as encouraging that 15% of tenants identified their sector with ‘friendly neighbours’ (on the previous page), two thirds of this number saw ‘problem neighbours’ as a hazard of being a social renter (below). Bad points about being a tenant of a local authority/ALMO/housing association Anti social/noisy neighbours 10% Homes kept in a poor state of repair 10% Don't own the property 7% Lack of facilities for 7% Parking 7% Poor quality housing 6% Little choice over the type of house I live in 6% Little choice over what happens to my property 6% Little choice of location 5% Rents too high 5% Lack of recycling facilities 5% Structural problems to the home 3% Bad landlords 3% Can't invest in housing market 2% Home too small 2% No right to buy 2% Having to deal with Tenants' Associations 2% Home not suitable for my/our 1% No pets allowed 0% None (including 'don't know') 49% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Base: 19,129 tenants Comparing the 2008 ratings of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ points across housing association, local authority and ALMO categories reveals no marked differences in tenant views. As noted above, with previous ETS having surveyed the housing association sector periodically since 1995, some trend over time analyses are possible in relation to association tenants. Comparing the ‘good points’ about being a housing association tenant cited in the 2004 and 2008 surveys indicates a marked increase in tenants citing repairs services or the standard of property as a ‘good point’ about having an association as a landlord. For example, the proportion who mentioned ‘good repairs service’ was up by nine percentage points, the percentage who cited ‘home kept in good state of repair’ was up by 11 and the proportion who identified associations with ‘good quality housing’ was up by 12%. This might well reflect the impact of Decent Homes programme investment, as well as perceived improvements in day-to-day repairs services. 13 Services social landlords should provide As might be anticipated, virtually all tenants saw repairs and maintenance to their home as a landlord responsibility (see table below). Almost nine out of ten also believed their landlord should take charge of repairs and maintenance to shared facilities. At the other end of the scale, relatively few tenants saw ‘reducing crime’ as a legitimate element of the landlord ‘offer’. It would seem from these results that most tenants may draw a firm distinction between the concepts of ASB (a landlord responsibility) and ‘crime’ (a police matter). Tenants believing specified services should be provided by their landlord: (a) Breakdown by tenure/landlord type All LA ALMO HA LSVT Base size (19,307) (4,998) (5,027) (5,616) (3,666) % % % % % Home repairs and maintenance 96 92 98 97 98 Repairs and maintenance to shared facilities 89 88 93 85 90 A high quality home 88 84 92 86 90 Housing advice 64 71 61 64 59 Helping tenants get better services from other 61 61 71 55 57 service providers Helping tenants improve their local 55 66 58 45 49 environment Providing community facilities 35 43 42 22 31 Information about care and support services 22 25 23 19 20 Money, benefits and debt advice 22 23 25 21 18 Working with local organisations to improve 21 25 22 17 17 services Advising tenants on business start-up 18 15 27 14 13 Employment and training support 15 16 21 13 9 Reducing crime 12 14 16 10 10 (b) Breakdown by respondent age All 18 - 24 25 - 39 40 - 54 55 - 64 65+ Base size (19,307) (1,117) (5,032) (4,990) (2,737) (5,314) % % % % % % Home repairs and maintenance 96 97 95 95 97 98 Repairs and maintenance to 89 89 88 88 91 91 shared facilities A high quality home 88 85 86 87 90 90 Housing advice 61 61 62 62 63 59 Helping tenants get better services 55 61 52 51 62 58 from other service providers Helping tenants improve their 36 38 36 33 38 36 local environment Providing community facilities 18 21 18 17 19 17 Information about care and 64 68 61 61 71 67 support services Money, benefits and debt 22 24 21 21 24 23 advice 14 Working with local organisations to improve 12 13 13 11 14 12 services Advising tenants on business 15 19 14 15 16 15 start-up Employment and training 21 21 18 20 24 23 support Reducing crime 22 23 19 20 25 26 Notes: (b) excludes 16-17 year olds because of the small number of such tenants. The table (a) excludes cases where information on tenure was missing; table (b) excludes cases where information on age of tenant was missing. The findings set out in (a) suggest that, by and large, tenant views on landlord responsibilities varied relatively little according to the type of landlord concerned. Where there were exceptions to this rule these tended to involve local authority and ALMO tenants tending to be ‘more demanding’. The two ‘services’ which particularly stood out in this respect were ‘Helping tenants improve their local environment’ and ‘Providing community facilities’. This probably reflects tenants’ recognition that – unlike housing associations – local authorities are by their nature multi-function organisations. As shown in (b) there was little sign of distinct age-related differences in tenant expectations on the range of services landlords should provide. As noted in the table, only relatively small numbers of tenants believed that social landlords should provide services beyond the ‘core functions’ of housing management. For example, only just over a fifth saw it as appropriate for landlords to provide advice on debt management and welfare benefits. Instead, the vast majority of tenants (68%) saw this as a service which should be provided by another agency. Similarly, while recent years have seen a growing emphasis on the need for social landlords to address the ‘worklessness agenda’, the survey findings suggest that relatively few tenants saw landlord responsibilities as properly including functions such as advising tenants on business start-up or employment and training support. Again, most tenants felt it should be up to other organisations to provide such services. This is not necessarily a surprising finding given that social landlord involvement in such areas remains a relatively unfamiliar concept. 15 Scope for trading off rent levels and landlord responsibilities Tenancy agreements define the services landlords undertake to provide in return for rent. To gauge tenants’ willingness to pay higher charges for extra services, tenants were asked whether this might be acceptable. Examples of additional provision cited in the question were ‘more frequent cleaning of communal areas or window cleaning’. As shown in the table below, only a small proportion of tenants favoured such an option. However, a much larger proportion were interested in taking on greater responsibility in return for reduced rent. The question evoking these responses suggested that this might involve the tenant ‘carrying out minor repairs to the home yourself’. In terms of landlord type it appears that ALMO tenants tended to be rather less enthusiastic about the principle of varying the rent to match changes in the split of responsibilities between landlord and tenant (see (a) below). While it is difficult to speculate what factors might underlie this, it appears from (b) that interest in such ideas is fairly consistent across all age groups other than that involving people aged over 65. Willingness to consider such options is not related to whether a tenant is paying the rent from their own funds. The proportion of tenants interested in the two options below was little different for those receiving housing benefit and for those ineligible for HB. Views about the scope for trading off rent levels and landlord responsibilities: (a) Breakdown by tenure/landlord type All LA ALMO HA LSVT Base size (19,307) (4,998) (5,027) (5,616) (3,666) % % % % % Willing to pay more rent for better services 10 13 7 10 11 Willing to accept more responsibility for 29 37 20 31 28 less rent (b) Breakdown by respondent age All 18 - 24 25 - 39 40 - 54 55 - 64 65 + Base size (19,307) (1,117) (5,032) (4,990) (2,737) (5,314) % % % % % % Willing to pay more rent for 10 14 11 11 10 7 better services Willing to accept more 29 33 35 34 31 16 responsibility for less rent Notes: (b) excludes 16-17 year olds because of the small number of such respondents. Table (a) excludes cases where information on tenure was missing; (b) excludes cases where information on age of respondent was missing. 16 Satisfaction with specific social landlord services Repairs and maintenance Extensive survey evidence demonstrates that repairs and maintenance services were most widely seen as the most important landlord activity. For example, the ETS 2004 found 73% of housing association tenants saw repairs and maintenance services as a ‘very important’ landlord activity. Similarly, the TSA’s National Conversation survey reported that 61% of a representative sample of tenants across the entire social rented sector saw this as the most important landlord activity5. Satisfaction with repairs and maintenance services 100% 90% 26% 25% 25% 27% 26% 80% 70% 60% 50% 48% 50% 47% 50% 54% 40% 30% 20% 12% 10% 9 12% 11% 10% 8% 7 7% 6% 7% 6% 4 6% 5% 5% 0% LA ALM HA LSVT ALL very dissatisfied dissatisfied neutral satisfied very satisfied Base: 19,066 tenants (LA: 4,942; ALMO: 4,992; HA: 5,560; LSVT: 3,572) Across the 2008 ETS sample, just over three quarters of tenants professed themselves satisfied with their landlord’s repairs and maintenance service – see the table below. Slightly stronger ratings were recorded for ALMOs than for other landlord types. As shown below repairs service satisfaction ratings were related to age of respondent, with the proportion of young people unhappy with the service being three times the comparable figure for the over 65 age group. Satisfaction with repairs and maintenance service: breakdown by selected characteristics Very All All dis- Very dis- Base size satisfied satisfied satisfied satisfied * ** All 26 76 11 5 (19,307) Respondents aged 18 - 24 17 63 21 11 (1,117) Respondents aged 25 - 39 21 72 16 7 (5,032) Respondents aged 40 - 54 23 74 13 6 (4,990) Respondents aged 55 - 64 27 79 10 4 (2,737) 5 GfK NOP Social Research (2009) The National Conversation Research Programme; Report to the TSA 17 Respondents aged 65 plus 35 83 7 3 (5,314) 1 elder 38 83 13 3 (3,336) 2 elders 32 84 13 2 (1,307) 1 other adult 24 74 20 5 (3,108) 2 adults – at least one non-elder 24 78 10 5 (3,072) 1 adult, 1 or more children 20 63 21 11 (2,220) 2 adults, 1 or more children 26 75 13 5 (3,515) Other 18 74 14 6 (2,668) White 27 75 13 5 (17,321) Asian 15 82 9 4 (655) Black 12 71 14 5 (672) London 15 81 9 3 (2,066) South 29 78 10 4 (4,094) Midlands 29 69 16 7 (6,118) North 29 76 14 6 (6,986) HA managing homes in 1 local 28 72 15 7 (2,623) authority HA managing homes in 2-5 local 37 79 14 5 (668) authorities HA managing homes in 6-20 local 30 80 9 4 (1,829) authorities HA managing homes in 21-50 local 19 69 15 8 (1,941) authorities HA managing homes in over 50 22 77 11 4 (2,221) local authorities *combines ‘very satisfied’ and ‘satisfied’ **combines ‘very dissatisfied’ and ‘dissatisfied’ Again, some differences show up more clearly in relation to the proportion of tenants reporting themselves ‘very satisfied’ with their landlord’s repairs service. On this measure both Asian and black tenants were much less strongly represented. Given that Asian and black tenants are disproportionately represented in London (where they accounted for 29% of interviewees as compared with 10% nationally), it is probably to be expected that tenants of landlords operating in the capital are less liable to report themselves ‘very satisfied’ with this service than tenants elsewhere in the country (see table above). Among housing associations there are signs that landlords with the most ‘disparate’ stock evoke slightly weaker ratings than others. The table on satisfaction with repairs and maintenance suggests a largely encouraging picture in terms of trends in satisfaction with the repairs service provided by housing associations. The proportion of tenants content with the service appears to have risen steadily and, while the incidence of dissatisfaction was also up slightly in 2008, the difference is too small to be significant. Equally, reference to the annual figures available from the Survey of English Housing indicates a steady trend of improvement across social renting as a whole over the past few years. SEH results show the proportion of local authority, ALMO and housing association tenants satisfied with repairs and maintenance services rising by five percentage points in the four years to 2006-07, while the percentage dissatisfied dropped by six per cent over this period (SEH Table S820). 18 Satisfaction with repairs and maintenance service – trend over time for housing association tenants 2008 2004 1999-2000 Base size (9,282) (9,240) (10,226) % satisfied 75 72 67 % dissatisfied 13 11 22 Sources: Existing Tenants Surveys, 1999-2000, 2004 and 2008 (question not asked in 1995 survey) Tenant opinions on last repairs completed (within the previous 12 months): (a) Proportion of tenants ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ All LA ALMO HA LSVT Base size (19,307) (4,998) (5,027) (5,616) (3,666) % % % % % Being told when workers would call 86 83 90 82 88 Time taken before work started 82 80 87 77 84 Speed with which work completed 85 85 88 82 87 Attitude of workers 91 90 92 90 93 Quality of work 85 83 88 81 88 Tidiness of workers 89 88 90 88 91 Being kept informed about scheduling 84 81 88 80 88 Overall satisfaction with last repair 85 83 88 82 87 (b) Proportion of tenants ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ All LA ALMO HA HA - Sample size (19,307) (4,998) (5,027) (5,616) (3,666) % % % % % Being told when workers would call 8 10 5 10 6 Time taken before work started 10 11 7 14 8 Speed with which work completed 7 8 5 9 6 Attitude of workers 3 3 2 4 2 Quality of work 7 8 5 9 5 Tidiness of workers 4 5 3 5 3 Being kept informed about scheduling 8 9 6 10 6 Overall satisfaction with last repair 8 8 6 9 7 Some 42% of tenants reported having had a repair to their home completed in the 12 months preceding the survey. Responses to a series of questions about their most recent experience of the repairs service are summarised in the table above. While satisfaction rates appear generally high across all landlord types there appears to be a pattern of slightly stronger ratings among tenants of ALMOs and stock transfer housing associations. Beyond this, tenant ratings of the service experienced in relation to their ‘most recent repair’ were similar to those for the repairs service in general – see previous table (eg with somewhat lower satisfaction scores for young respondents and for black and Asian tenants). 19 Landlord handling of complaints The way that organisations handle complaints about their services is an important barometer of their overall approach to ‘customer care’. Exactly what constitutes a ‘complaint’ is of course a matter for debate. For example, should a reported need to replace a broken window be properly described as a ‘complaint’? The National Housing Federation uses the term ‘complaint’ to describe: ‘a criticism that expects a reply and requires action or changes to be made’6. A slightly more specific formulation would be ‘a service user’s report of organisational failure in relation to published service standards’. Leaving open the precise definition of ‘complaint’, the ETS asked tenants about their experience of complaining about housing services. Some 14% reported having made a complaint during the previous year. Another five per cent had ‘felt like’ complaining. There were some apparent differences in the incidence of complaints according to age of tenant. While over 20% of those aged 18-24 had complained, this was true for only 11% of those aged over 65. Cross-tabulating by tenure, the propensity to complain was higher for housing association and local authority tenants (16% and 18%) than for LSVT, HA and ALMO tenants (10% and 12%). Complaints procedures established by organisations such as social landlords generally seek to formalise the way that recognised ‘complaints’ are investigated and responded to. Discounting the instances where tenants were unable to remember the details, just under half of the ‘complaints’ registered in the previous year were reportedly made via the landlord’s formal complaints procedure. The matters at issue in (what tenants considered as) complaints reported to landlords in the year preceding the survey broke down as follows: day-to-day repairs – 48% (the issue evoking most complaints from tenants of all age groups) anti-social behaviour –18% major works (ie new windows, kitchens etc) – 14% neighbourhood – five per cent external decoration – three per cent other – 11% Of these complaints, just over half were seen by tenants as ‘ongoing’. Among the remainder (and discounting responses from those unable to recall the result), the reported outcomes of ‘completed’ instances broke down as follows: landlord solved the problem – 47% no action was taken as landlord couldn't do anything about it – 11% landlord failed to provide an adequate explanation – nine per cent landlord kept me updated on progress of problem – eight per cent received an apology – seven per cent landlord provided explanation as to why problem couldn't be solved – four per cent received compensation – three per cent 6 National Housing Federation; complaints procedure; http://www.housing.org.uk/Default.aspx?tabid=552 20 It should be noted that tenants could opt for two or more of the above responses – hence, those reporting having received compensation could also have stated that their landlord had ‘solved the problem’. Given the relatively small numbers of cases involved it is not feasible to compare the ‘complaint responsiveness’ of different categories of social landlord. More specifically focused research would be needed to probe such issues in more detail. In aggregate, however, the results above appear quite encouraging in that more than half of cases resulted in a ‘solution’ or an explanation of why no solution was possible. Nevertheless, it should be noted that more than half of all recently-raised ‘complaints’ reportedly remained ‘ongoing’ at the time of the survey. Hence, some may be resolved as yet. What is the relationship between complaints and overall satisfaction with the landlord’s service? Notably, the overall ‘dissatisfaction’ rate among the eight per cent of tenants with ‘ongoing’ complaints was 30% as compared with seven per cent across all tenants. A survey of this kind cannot determine the causality involved here but these findings do at least suggest a hypothesis that failure to resolve complaints is an important factor underlying discontent with landlord services. 21 Conclusions In combination with other recent survey findings, the ETS results paint a fairly positive picture of the sector. Although scope for further improvement remains, satisfaction rates do generally appear to be high and rising. While social landlords of different kinds have been subject to varying funding mechanisms and regulatory demands, there is little evidence of any marked differences in terms of tenant perspectives on services. Neither is there any general sign of less positive views about landlord services among BME tenants. 22 Existing Tenants Survey 2008 Tenant perspectives on social landlord services The Existing Tenants Survey is a large and comprehensive survey of social housing tenants. The survey was undertaken between August and October 2008 for tenants, and February to April 2009 for shared owners. This report focuses on the survey findings that relate to social housing tenants’ perceptions of their landlord’s services. As well as drawing on the Existing Tenants Survey, this paper also makes reference to other recent survey data which sheds light on tenants’ views about landlord services. 23